: AXD OFF-WHITE 221
Yet India's films provide an adrnirabk short-cut to art *mder-
stundlng of the national psychology.
•Have you read the Bhagavat Gita ? *
•Who's that ? What- dYou say ?"
•The Bhagavat Gita.*
They have never even heard of it. It is as though an Indian
coming to England had never heard of the Xew Testament.
I met a large number of English padres, but only two had
heard of the Abbe Dubois* Hindu Manneis* Customs and Cere-
monies, and even they had not attempted to read it. Yet Dubois
is a quite indispensable classic; he is the one author whom no
student of India can afford to ignore.
*3ave yon ever slept the night la an Indian village?*
*Xo thanks. Too many bugs/
How can you ever enter into the heart of India till you have
Chared at least one mglifc with the peasants, living as a peasant ?
Admittedly, I did not do it often, but even a short experience
taught me more than a dozen books. I learned, for instance, the
strange sense of oneness which the Indians have with the animals ;
it seemed quite natural that four little goats should b? sleeping in
one corner of the hut. that a cluster of hens should be brooding in
another, and that from time to time a bullock should push a solemn
head through the door. It was not possible to get much sleep, and
the bites were legion, but there were many compensations. The
wail of the flute as the desk was falling* the lovely silhouettes of
the women at the well, charcoal black against a jade-green sky,
the bowl of curds and fresh fruit which they brought me before
going to bed, and the wreath of frangipani that they placed around
my neck. I hung it on the wall when they had gone, and watched
the candlelight flicker on the silver tinsel with which they had
And then—the sudden dawn, very rich and red, a regular
blood orange of a dawn : and the singing of the peasants as they
set off to the paddy fields. There are few things more beautiful
than a paddy field in the early light; it is like a quilt embroidered
_Jn many shades of green, from the pale stretches" of the out-
""plantings, thinly *»own against the red earth, to the vivid squares,
of glowing emerald which mark the crop to come.